Game of the Year 2016

2016 has come to an end. Finally, some might say, and sure this year certainly did have some lows. It also did have some highs and, especially in the world of video games, 2016 was actually a pretty damn good year. We finally got Gal*Gun: Double Peace in the west for instance!

To me, 2016 will be remembered as the year of pleasant surprises. Games, that on paper seemed destined to fail, turned out to be glorious pieces of software. Obviously we did see some bad games here and there, but the amount of good games was honestly a bit overwhelming. I didn't manage to play them all, and I doubt anyone else was able to do so.

That's why this year's top 10 list was really hard to make. I had to exclude a bunch of games I really enjoyed. I feel like there was a handful of great games coming out every month, which is another great thing to see. Gone are the days where all the big releases, only came out in the fourth quarter. 2016 had new games coming out all the time....well...with the exception of July. Nothing showed up that month, but that was ok. I gave us all a chance to catch up with the first six months of releases.

I'd like to give some games an honorable mention, even though they didn't make the top 10. Starting the year off with The Witness was great. An amazing puzzle game that, even though I actually never got around to finishing it, is something everyone should at least check out. Ratchet & Clank was an amazing remake of the original game. Might still be the best looking game of the year, and still a fun action platformer. It's definitely better than the movie it was released along side with. The Last Guardian was another game that surprised me. The fact that it actually came out, and wasn't a flaming pile of garbage is amazing in itself. Caught in development hell for what felt like an eternity, it had no right being a good game. It definitely has problems, but the interaction between the player and Trico is so well-made, that you forget about the shortcomings. The only reason The Last Guardian didn't make my top 10, is because I just didn't have time to play it enough. What I have played though seemed fantastic. I also had a lot of fun playing The Division with friends, but it has some problems which prevents it from reaching my top 10 list.

Battlefield 1 and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare were both fine. Both of them had a better than expected campaigns and the multiplayer modes were still good. While Battlefield 1 might be one of the best entries in that franchise, I can't say the same for Infinite Warfare as an overall package. Still, I enjoy popping in both games once in a while for some online shooting. Gears of War 4 was actually a fun new entry to the series, I had a blast playing Trackmania Turbo, World of Final Fantasy was a wierd little surprise, Dark Souls III kept being Dark Souls and Pokemon Sun/Moon showed that Pokemon games are still fun, even if you don't catch them on your smartphone. Also shout outs to The King of Fighters XIV, Watch Dogs 2 (so much better than the first one), Dishonored 2, Dino Dini's Kick Off Revival, Le Tour de France 2016 and of course Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune! Of course there was also a couple of older games I kept playing in 2016. Most notably Destiny, even though Rise of Iron wasn't nearly as good as The Taken King, and The Crew.

2016 was also the year of VR. Oculus Rift, Vive and, later in the year, PlayStation VR all arrived to blast video games straight into our eyeballs. As a bit of a sceptic in the beginning, I decided to wait for the cheapest option in the form of PlayStation VR. I'm glad I didn't upgrade my PC, and went all in for the Vive. The games just aren't there yet. That being said, there is definitely promise in the technology. Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, Job Simulator, Rez Infinite (You NEED to play the Area X stage in VR!), Eagle Flight, Playroom VR, EVE: Valkyrie and Thumper were all amazing experiences. That's the problem though. It's still mostly experiences. We need more substantial games, and developers also need to solve the biggest hurdle: How to let you move around freely in first person without making people sick. If you want to test your stomach, try the VR mode in Rise of the Tomb Raider on PS4, set the controls to free moving and see how it goes. If nothing else though, 2016 was just the first step for VR. 2017 should be the real indicator of how VR will evolve, and we don't have to wait too long for the test subject. I have a feeling that a lot of people are looking to Resident Evil VII, as their first true full on VR video game experience.

I would also like to be a bit patriotic for a second. This year I have two games made in Denmark on my list, and I hope that the succes of these games will inspire more of my fellow Danes to start up video game development. It's unfortunately very hard and expensive, but maybe the people, who controls funding of arts in this country, understand what the media is able to do now. IO Interactive and Playdead have definitely set the bar high this year, (despite what Jeff Gerstmann might tell you about Inside) and it makes me proud to see how far video game development in Denmark has come since Hugo the Troll in the 90's. Also, I would like to pour one out for Press Play. The Danish studio Microsoft decided to close down this year. They're mostly known for Max and the Magic Marker and Max: The Curse of Brotherhood. Hopefully everyone who worked there have found a new job or will find something new in 2017.

I should also mention the disappointments I had this year. Street Fighter V, what happened? It's such a shame because the part where you actually play Street Fighter V, and fight people is amazing. Why the hell Capcom decided to ship an unfinished game, and then had the nerve to ask for more money in the form of a season pass (that only included the characters and not customes or stages), is beyond me. No Man's Sky, what's left to say? I actually enjoyed what was there, and I'm looking forward to seeing how they expand the game. That just doesn't excuse the fact that they tried to sell it, as something it never was. Even Sony threw Hello Games under the bus in a pretty unfair way, as Sony had let the hype build up around it. Hopefully everyone involved in the game's development has learned something about PR. The less said about Mighty No. 9, the better. Quantum Break was a disappointing mediocre third person shooter (MADE BY REMEDY, CREATORS OF MAX PAYNE FOR GOD'S SAKE!) with some badly acted movie scenes in between missions. TMNT: Mutants in Manhattan was a horrible mistake. It could've been fantastic but instead it was a short, rushed, repetitive and boring Turtles game. Battleborn might be the worst game I've spent money on in the last 10 years. What Gearbox was trying to do with that game I'll never know. At least it renewed my reasons to not like Randy Pitchford and his company, for what they did with Aliens: Colonial Marines. Star Fox Zero was a game that lived up to the expectations. Unfortunately that meant it wasn't very good. Poor Wii U in general. It was obvious everyone at Nintendo had shifted development to the upcoming Switch and besides Star Fox, the only other Wii U releases I remember from this year are Paper Mario: Color Splash and Tokyo Mirage Sessions. I played Paper Mario, it was ok but nothing special, and TMS is the one game this year I feel bad for having missed as everyone praised it. I will make sure to pick it up sooner rather than later.

Phew, that went a bit longer than expected. That alone should tell the story that 2016 was jampacked with games, and the amazing thing is that 2017 doesn't look too bad either. Especially with a new Nintendo console hitting the market in March, and there's also the Scorpio at the end of the year. Here's hoping you will have a great new year, and here are the 10 games I enjoyed the most in 2016.

List items

  • If you had told me one year ago, that I would have the upcoming DOOM as my game of the year I would've slapped you across the face. If you had even said that it would be anywhere near my top 10, I would have laughed. Just the idea of id somehow being able to make a new DOOM, that felt both modern and refreshing, but also harnessed the feeling of the original games sounded impossible.

    Somehow though, they did it. The campaign is probably the best FPS campaign in years, and it just feels so good to blow through hordes of demons at a breakneck speed. You don't even have to reload! That's the amazing thing about DOOM. They've picked the right things from the original, and then blended it in with a modern shooter. No reload, you can carry all weapons and it's fast. At the same time adding new elements like the glory kills that works really well. They even managed to make an interesting story for God's sake. An interesting story....in DOOM!

    I can't praise DOOM enough for being as good as it is, because it really shouldn't have been. It should've been a disaster, but it isn't. If you're looking for a good single player FPS experience, you MUST play this game....Oh yes, there is a multiplayer mode too...it isn't bad...it's just...it isn't anything special unlike the single player campaign.

  • It was very hard for me to chose between my top two games of the year. Both of them were surpringly good, better than they should have been. They revitilized my interest in two franchises I had lost faith in.

    My fellow country men from IO Interactive, almost ruined the Hitman franchise with Hitman Absolution. I should say, I've never enjoyed hardcore stealth games, but Hitman 2: Silent Assassin and Hitman: Blood Money somehow grabbed my attention. They were tough too, but they also weren't linear. I could solve the missions in a lot of ways, and that kept me trying different solutions. Absolution on the other hand, turned Hitman into a more action oriented game (almost like the two dreadful Hitman movies), and that just didn't feel right.

    This year's Hitman however feels right. My God, does it feel right. When IO came out and announced they had turned their new Hitman game into a episodic game, I though they had finally lost their mind. Instead, it turned out to be a stroke of genius.

    I've never completed a Hitman game because ,at some point, you've just had enough Hitman. With the episodic structure, there was a long enough break between the new missions, that I built up appetite for another mission. At the same time it also encouraged me to keep playing the same maps, and try different ways to kill the targets. It helps when the gameplay itself is amazing and this time around the game doesn't take itself too seriously. It doesn't try to be too realistic and that makes the game a lot more fun to play. The different missions does go up and down in quality, but none of them are bad and the best maps are worth the price. Things like the Elusive Targets also keep the game feel alive, and IO has undoubtedly shown they're commited to keep supporting this fantastic game for the foreseeable future.

    If you've never tried Hitman or are a experienced assassin, you owe it to yourself to give Hitman a try. I sure can't wait for Season 2 in 2017.

  • Uncharted 4 is the best Uncharted game. There, I said it. It's better than 2. It actually shouldn't be. Even though I didn't think Uncharted 4 would be a bad game, it was still surprisingly good.

    When Uncharted 4 first got announced I groaned. I enjoyed 3 for what it was, but I felt like I was done with Uncharted after completing that game. What more could they do to the franchise? Turns out the answer was to give Uncharted a good well-written story. The story of Uncharted 4 is actually the star of the game. The action sequences are still amazing, and the gameplay is still great third person shooting fun. It's just not something you wouldn't see in the original trilogy.

    How they told the story of Drake, his every day life after 3, how he gets back into the treasure hunting and finally close that chapter of his life, is wonderfully told and engaging to follow. If the gameplay had been a bit more refreshing it would undoubtely have been my game of the year but, as with the rest of the series, it's gets a bit long in the tooth and doesn't feel that different from the rest. However it made me a lot more interested in the character, Nathan Drake, and that is a top 3 worthy accomplishment. Also, Uncharted 4 looks amazing!

  • Final Fantasy XV is a bit of a miracle. Starting it's life as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the odds were certainly against it. Even if I somehow (I can't explain why) kind of enjoyed Lightning Returns, nothing related to Final Fantasy XIII seemed to be worth investing in.

    Then, time passed along, Versus XIII stayed in development for a long time. So long in fact that most people expected it was cancelled. Finally it sort of was. Versus XIII turned into XV, and the game was now free of it's ties to the XIII-series.

    I expected some wierd train wreck of a game, that felt like 6 different game ideas stabled together. Playing XV didn't feel like a game that went through a long troubled development though. Sure, the story telling has issues and you're almost expected to have watched that wierd CGI movie first. The gameplay though is fun, and the boys on their road trip of a lifetime are actually not horrible. They're pretty likeable characters which was probably the biggest surprise to me. A great battle system, a big wonderful world to explore and a ton of side quest will ensure this game lives on long after you've completed the main story quest.

    All in all, I can definitely recommend Final Fantasy XV to anyone who likes great RPGs and not just fans of Final Fantasy.

  • The Civilization games are like crack to me. It gets me terribly addicted, and I keep saying "just one more turn" for hours upon hours. I absolutely love this franchise, and the sitxth entry doesn't change that.

    Don't ask me what the differences are between V and VI, I'm not that hardcore a Civ player. I just like to get lost in the world I'm trying to conquer, and build up my civilization. One thing is for sure, Civilization VI will keep on entertaining me long after 2016 has ended, and for that it deserves to be my fifth best game of the year.

  • Titanfall 2 is an amazing first person shooter. It is undoubtely my favourite multiplayer shooter of the year, and I even bought Mountain Dews to get the codes under caps for a skin and other stuff.

    Thanks to the single player campaign, Titanfall 2 doesn't feel as bare bones as the original did. It's even better when you consider, that the campaign is actually pretty good. Personally I feel it's been overhyped a great deal, I didn't excactly get blown away by it. Still, it's really well-made, fun and pretty clever in some parts.

    As a whole, Titanfall 2 deserved a better fate. EA really shouldn't have released it between Battlefield 1 and CoD: Infinite Warfare, but that doesn't change the fact that Titanfall 2 is a must play for fans of First Person Shooters.

  • The last few years I've tried not to include any of the annual soccer games, even though I've probably spent the most time playing them. That's not different this year either, but there is actually one thing that sets 2016 apart.

    Ever since Konami tried to take the much beloved PES series from PS2 to the PS3/360, something went wrong. It didn't feel as good as on PS2, and EA somehow managed to make a better soccer game with their FIFA series. I've long yearned for Konami to get the series back on track, and even though PES 2016 was a good step in the right direction, Konami's current state didn't give me much hope that they would be able to do it.

    Well, low and behold. PES 2017 is an absolutely amazing soccer game. So much so in fact, that I've almost not touched FIFA 17. This is taking me straight back to the golden years of the franchise on PS2, and I can't believe they did it.

  • Overwatch almost didn't even make my list. Not because I don't like it. I just didn't get addicted to iy, like a lot of other people did. That being said, I've never been a big fan of team based shooters. Despite that I still enjoyed Overwatch when I actually did sit down to play it.

    The big reason why I want to honor Overwatch, is how it tries to show every player in a positive light. Instead of showing my abysmal kill/death ratio, I can still be highlighted for helping my team in another way. I absolutely love that Overwatch wants to make every player seem important, even if they're not the best killing machine.

    I mostly like Overwatch in short doses, but I still plan to play it here and there in 2017, so I have no problems making Overwatch my 8th best game of 2016.

  • I didn't expect a lot from Forza Horizon 3. I enjoyed the first one, but Horizon 2 was kind of forgetable. Not bad, but it didn't improve on the first one.

    Forza Horizon 3 on the other hand, does what excactly what Horizon 2 wasn't able to do. I got some Burnout vibes from it and let me tell you, that are vibes I like to get. Fans of arcade style racers have not been spoiled a lot these last few years, but Forza Horizon 3 delivers fast thrills and a fantastic racing game.

  • Inside is not like most video games. I honestly don't know if I even enjoyed the gameplay. What I do know is, Inside is a unique video game that lives on the atmosphere, and the world it takes place in.

    A disturbing tale of a young boy trying to escape from a horrible building complex, Inside works best if you don't know what happens. Which is why I being very vague about it, and want to keep this short. It sure isn't for everyone, especially Jeff Gerstmann, but if you enjoyed Playdead's last game, Limbo, this will definitely be worth checking out.

    Inside makes my top 10, because it quite simply gave me an experience I didn't get anywhere else this year.